Where is this movement’s sense of urgency? Whatever are we waiting for? Has there ever been a time in history where marijuana was such a hot button topic, and where the wind was at our backs, like it is right now?
Look at the latest Quinnipiac polling data. Marijuana legalization is up by 7 points- 51% favoring and 44% opposed. That is even way ahead of gay marriage, which has seen incredible victories in equality and freedom over the last couple of years. To put it in perspective, the gay population is about 3.8% of the total population, while it is estimated that 10-13% of Americans smoke weed.
So if we are polling better than gay marriage; and seem to have a more robust acceptance level among our society; and we are estimated a 3-4 times lager segment of the population, why are we not seeing the support and social change that the gay community is? Why is there not a more concentrated and vocal demand for equal cannabis rights? Have we been conditioned to believe that we are not as deserving of freedom as other social change movements?
There are a number of factors at play here in the weed debate. First and foremost is JAIL. Nobody goes to jail for being gay, at least not overtly. But people do go to jail for weed at alarming rates every day. So that makes it difficult to “rally the troops” when everyone is worried about being charged with crimes, or losing their standing in the community for participating and supporting this “illegal” activity. It is hard to get people to “come out of the cannabis closet” when there are real and scary consequences for their actions.
Another major issue we face is that our coalition is severely fractured, and incapable of making sound strategic decisions in a cohesive manner. Instead of having a powerful singular message and the ability to put all of our resources towards meaningful efforts, we have a patchwork of inconsistency and competition fighting for the spotlight. We fail to find traction because we do not demand more out of our movement. It is like everyone is stoned or something.
But seriously, we lack a real sense of urgency.
Maybe it is just me who wakes up truly sick to their stomach because we continue to lock up people for weed, and ruin life after life in the name of a failed war on a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. Maybe I am the only one who cannot stand to live in a society where our law enforcement, there to “protect and serve,” are tasked with participating in the most evil and cruel plot against other human beings since slavery. It must just be me that cannot stand feeling like any moment my world will come crashing down and armed gunmen will storm my house (again) because I love weed. Am I alone over here in being sick and tired of cringing every time a cop pulls up behind me in traffic because I smell like weed and do not want to have all my shit searched…again?
I got a call yesterday evening from Daisy Bram, who has AGAIN lost her kids to Child protective Services for a legal medical cannabis garden and vindictive prosecution. My heart broke as this loving mother and dedicated cannabis activist went over the details of Tehama County sheriffs ripping her newborn from her arms, and the pain of having her three young children in foster care, while their father sits in jail and she looks to rebuild her life. She cried to me about the injustice, and the anger she felt because our movement was not doing enough to stop this madness. Her frustration with a system gone bad was real, and it brought tears to my eyes, as I felt completely powerless.
I did not try to say I knew what she was going through. I do not. I could not imagine. It is an incredibly painful situation to try to envision. I hung up the phone with her and went and hugged my kids tight.
But Daisy’s story is just one of a million stories where the drug war has destroyed families and created unnecessary hardship for families and people who are already struggling. These laws continue to plague our society in ways that we cannot even begin to understand. When we make criminals out of a large portion of our community for “crimes” that have no victims, and in the case of cannabis, that actually helps a number of folks, we create a society based on fear and distrust. We have attempted to incarcerate our way out of a drug problem that we created, and in doing so, we continue to demolish people’s existence…and their futures.
So forgive me if I am not okay sitting idly by and waiting for time to take its course. Understand that I scream and yell because I care. Just know that I wake up every day working to end this nightmare and restore sanity to planet earth. We all should be putting every effort into ending cannabis prohibition forever, and not playing into the narrative that “we must take our time,” or that “we must see what the Feds will do first.” I call bullshit.
The time is NOW and we must begin to demand an end to the war on weed and a release of our brothers and sisters in jail. We must demand a paradigm shift in the way our culture views and treat people who smoke weed. It is no longer okay to act as if we are being granted some privilege, or that we must “play the game” to change the laws. It is not an A+B=C equation. It is bigger than that.
We are at the apex of social change where marijuana is concerned and it is high time we began to act like it. There is no reason that we should be discussing 4 or 5 year plans for adult use legalization in this state or that state. That is absurd. If we fail to strike while the iron is hot and parlay our victories, and command of the national dialogue, into real and meaningful reform at the state and federal level, then we will pay a huge opportunity cost.
Or, chances are that reform could happen in spite of our calculated and cautious efforts.
If our movement fails to seize the moment, and continues to play the long game, in hopes of appeasing our opposition for another decade or two, then we should not be surprised to keep seeing our friends and neighbors lose their freedom, and their lives, over some weed plants. We are allowing this to happen. Our lack of direction and passion are evident. Our willingness to endure the status quo for even a moment longer is just disturbing. As long as we are seeing people put in jail for decades, families losing their kids, our homes and vehicles being searched, and losing our jobs and livelihood because of weed, none of us should be sleeping well. I have not slept well in over a decade.
The message is clear….STOP MASS INCARCERATION. END THE DRUG WAR NOW. QUIT TAKING PEOPLE TO JAIL FOR WEED.
So if we do not get our shit together and begin to develop real solutions that are not based on strategies aimed YEARS down the road, I am just taking my 20 ft. tall inflatable gorilla on the road and setting him up at places where I can at least feel like the message is getting out…and YES…I do own a 20 ft. tall inflatable gorilla…..